SUSTAINABLE AND ORGANIC MANAGEMENT OF SELECTED FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Title: Seed Germination Methods and Establishment of Saw-Pametto, Serenoa repens, in South Texas
Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 21, 2007
Publication Date: February 12, 2008
Citation: Makus, D.J. 2008. Seed germination and establishment of saw-pametto, serenoa repens, in south Texas. Acta Horticulturae. 782:381-385.
Interpretive Summary: Saw-palmetto berries are used in homopathic preparations for the treatment of enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia). Most berries are collected in the wild from rangelands in Florida. Fire is a rangeland weed management tool which substantially reduces wild saw-palmetto yields. We observed that saw-palmetto will grow well under domestic cultivation in calciferous soils, particularly light textured soil, which are not common to its native habitat. Although 5 to 6 years are required for berry production, the palm requires modest inputs of fertilizer, supplemental water and weed control and can produce 3.6 t/ha from 3588 plants/ha by the 6th year. The ability to obtain high yields would have a substantial impact on reducing berry costs and cultivation could allow for the selection of plants having fruit with improved levels of antiprostatitic compounds. Using several pre-germination protocols, we determined that the best methods for improved saw-palmetto seed germination are those in current use.
Saw-palmetto, Serenoa repens, a native of Florida rangelands and used medicinally in prostate formulations, was evaluated as an alternative crop for South Texas (USA). Fresh seeds obtained from the USDA Plant Introduction Station, Miami, Florida on 28 Oct. 1999, were sown directly into artificial media after using the following pre-germination protocols: (1) Fruit ‘as is’, (2) seed with mesocarp removed, (3) cleaned seed imbibed in water for 24 hrs, (4) procedure 2 + acid scarification, then imbibed in water for an additional 24 hrs, (5) procedure 2 + mechanical abrasion, then imbibed for an additional 24 hrs, (6) 2 + GA4,7 (100 ug /L), then additional 24 hr water imbibition, and (7) a combination of procedures 2 + 4 + 5. After 12 weeks, treatments 3 through 7 were, statistically, but not kinetically, similar (50-61 % germination), but higher than simply removing the mesocarp (20 %) or planting the unprocessed seed (8 %). Seedlings were grown in a greenhouse until 14 March 2001, pooled, then field planted into a Fine, mixed, hyperthermic Vertic Calciustolls and a Course-loamy, mixed, hyperthermic Aridic Haplustalfs soil (USDA). Single 36 m rows were planted at 0.9 m within row spacings, trickle irrigated, and supplied with fertilizer each year. First flowering was observed in 2003. The 2005 yield per plant and 2006 mid-year plant heights were 229 and 1007 g and 1.6 and 1.9 m, respectively, for plants grown in the two respective soils (means different at P < 0.01).